Abbott’s Frozen Custard, a Rochester, NY institution opens store in Massachusetts

Abbott’s Frozen Custard’s newly opened franchise in Needham, Mass.

I read with interest when the Boston Globe had a piece last week on the recent opening of an outlet of a Rochester, NY landmark business in Needham, Massachusetts. Abbott’s Frozen Custard which started in 1902 when Arthur Abbott started selling his frozen treat at local fairs. He opened a permanent store in 1926 in Rochester’s Charlotte neighborhood. So the ice cream lovers that we are, Denise and I took a ride over to Needham on Saturday afternoon to find the store and check out the offerings and see what the shouting was about. Well, we were more than pleased! It was delicious! We had the Red Raspberry flavored custard and we were hooked. Now I wish we lived a little closer. We met Mary Pat Dauria and her family who opened this franchise, she is a native of Rochester living here in the Boston area for 27 years. Every time the family went back to Rochester for visits one of their first stops was to Abbott’s. Theirs is not the first franchise outside of the Empire state, that distiction goes to Florida, but it is the first in New England. I’m hoping more open here in the future.

Here is the text of the piece from the Boston Globe….

Cold comfort
Abbott’s custard brings back good memories for customers

By Elizabeth Navisky, Globe Correspondent / July 29, 2008

NEEDHAM – She’s lived here for 27 years, but no one would mistake Mary Pat Dauria for a New Englander. “I still can’t get rid of the Rochester accent,” she says, ringing up another sale at Abbott’s Frozen Custard, her shop here. Both Dauria and the cash register have been quite busy since the store opened in June, serving an influx of customers hooked on the cold treat.
Thick frozen custard has inspired a devoted following, especially residents of Rochester, N.Y., the site of the original Abbott’s on Lake Ontario. Frozen custard, made with eggs, buttermilk, and cream, and churned slowly in a custom-made machine, is denser than traditional ice cream. “I missed Abbott’s,” says Dauria. “Every time I went back to Rochester the first thing we did was go there.” So five years ago, the former buyer for Filene’s hatched a plan to open an Abbott’s Frozen Custard franchise here, the first in New England (others are located in New York and Florida.)

It wasn’t long before transplanted Rochestarians found it. “I absolutely grew up on Abbott’s,” says Norma Greenberg, 76, waiting in line at the tiny storefront. She points to a 1939 photograph of the original Abbott’s on the wall. “I could be in one of these pictures!” The Newton resident heard about the new Abbott’s from a Needham friend. She rushed over that day and reminisced with Dauria about custard and all things Rochester.

Dauria has had many similar encounters since opening, and has a two-page list of local Rochestarians who have visited. She’s witnessed reunions of people who hadn’t seen each other since their school days in the snowy city, and has fielded requests for other Rochester treats, like white hots, a type of a hot dog eaten in the area.

Rochester residents were first introduced to frozen custard in 1902, when Arthur Abbott started flogging the confection at local fairs. He open a permanent location in 1926 in the Rochester neighborhood of Charlotte (pronounced “Shar-LOT” or, if you are from Rochester and have the signature flat twang, “Shar-LAAT”), which still exists today. Dauria points to an old photograph of that shop, showing a procession of people – as far as the eye can see – waiting for a custard. “It’s still like that,” she says. “They have to get extra police every summer in Charlotte to deal with those lines.”

The Needham location has its own queues to contend with, a fact that didn’t escape Annette Doolin, a University of Rochester graduate who drove from Swampscott to taste nostalgia. “I almost feel like jumping behind there and helping them out, I’m so committed to this custard,” she says. Doolin, 40, who was introduced to Abbott’s by a classmate who had grown up in Rochester, made a habit of indulging in chocolate custard once a week while living there.

Flavors are limited as the custard is made fresh daily and each batch takes 20 minutes to churn. Vanilla, chocolate, black raspberry, and coffee are some flavors most often available. On this night, Greenberg chooses vanilla, which she shares with her daughter, Susan, who is visiting from Durham, N.C., and has been whisked to Needham to taste her mother’s childhood.

It lives up to the hype. “There was a lot of build up,” says the younger Greenberg, “but it is very, very good.”

Abbott’s Frozen Custard, 934 Great Plain Ave., Needham, 781-444-9908, you can also read the history and other interesting info about Abbott’s at


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